Why I Love Cold Turkey: The Benefits of Split Decisions

I admit it. I’m a vegan, and I love cold turkey.

Say what???

Let me explain…

When I was in high school, I grew my hair long enough so I could sit on it. What can I say? I was a weird kid.

We might as well drag out the embarrassing high school picture now.

Welcome to 1998, people. Mmmm…tapered mom jeans and nerd glasses.

Click here to see more awkward photos from my youth.

Anyhoo, you might notice that my hair in this high school photo is very long, but it’s not butt length. A few days before this picture was taken, I had a very dramatic experience at the hair salon.

I was 17 and broke (selling shoes at Bakers doesn’t pay much), so I went to the discount hair salon in the strip mall by my house. My goal was to get just a trim (one inch!) before my senior class photo.

I sat down in the chair and began explaining my one inch (one inch!) policy to the stylist who was combing my mile-long hair with her fingers.

“So, how long have you been a vegetarian? A few years?” she asked.

I stared at the woman’s reflection in the mirror for a moment. I was a little dumbfounded because I hadn’t mentioned that I was a vegetarian. And no, I wasn’t wearing some militant “Go veg or die!” shirt.

“Uh…3 years…” I said. “How did you know?”

“Oh, you can tell a lot about a person from their hair,” she replied.

She reached down to grab my hand and put my fingers on my scalp.

“Feel this!” she said excitedly. Then she slowly dragged my fingers down the length of my hair. After about a foot and a half of hair, something strange happened.

I could feel a distinct horizontal line across my hair. Freaky.

The stylist rubbed my fingers over the rough line, then back up a few inches to my soft newer hair, and then back over the rough spot a few times.

How had I not noticed this before?

The rough line in my hair didn’t feel like dried/split ends. It was too deliberate, too high. There were many inches of hair below the line.

The stylist went on to explain that she had learned to tell how healthy a person’s diet was based on his or her hair. She said she’d noticed the same dramatic line in other vegetarians’ hair, but only the ones who quit eating meat “cold turkey.”

Ha! I had to laugh at that turn of phrase.

Are you familiar with the phrase cold turkey? It’s used when you quit doing something immediately rather than gradually.

For example, a woman who finds out she’s pregnant will stop drinking alcohol cold turkey. And a smoker who wants to get healthy might stop smoking cigarettes cold turkey.

This hair stylist had correctly surmised that I had stopped eating meat in an instant.

But that’s how I roll. I’m a big proponent of making split decisions.

Your first instinct or gut reaction about a situation is usually right. Follow it!

It’s about trusting yourself and trusting your body and mind. Your subconscious can pick up on things your conscious mind might not be able to process yet. If you go through a lot of waffling and flip-flopping when making a decision, remember that it’s only your ego trying to confuse you about what you really want.

Be quiet and still. The answer will appear to you out of all the distractions. To me, the “true self” in my subconscious is like a clear bell ringing in a noisy room.

When I know it’s time for me to make a change, I dive right in—no looking back!

I love cold turkey!

The stylist had stopped talking and was looking expectantly at me in the mirror.

“Cut it off,” I rubbed the line in my hair. “Cut it all off.”

The woman smiled, and led me back to the sinks. In the end, I got about a foot of hair cut off…the most I’ve ever had cut off in a single visit.

And I was really happy with my split decision to have a major haircut, just as I was about my split decision to become a vegetarian, and later, a vegan.

By the way, I didn’t mean to freak out any of my veggie readers with my post headline. I can assure you I am a vegan, for reals. That first picture is of a turkey I adopt from Farm Sanctuary every year for Thanksgiving.

Do you believe in making split decisions?

What have you quit cold turkey?

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  1. Anna@ThriftyBusiness on July 31, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    You gave birth to yet another fantastic post, Sage. It was so well written that I went right back and read it again. I too used to have hair so long I could sit on it. One day I decided on a change and chopped the WHOLE thing off. My hair was so short I couldn’t even make a pony tail and I don’t regret a second of it.

    The best decisions of my life were made cold turkey.

    Changing majors from history to microbiology (and deciding on a career in medical research)
    Deciding on a university at the last minute
    Agreeing to date my much older boyfriend (12 years apart and 5 happy years together)
    P.S – I shared your book with him and he’s smitten. The realization that he’s a lazy bum though he does a LOT of work simultaneously scared the crap out of him and liberated him.

    P.S – aside from the hair you haven’t changed one bit. Looking good!

  2. Cara on July 30, 2012 at 7:32 am

    Aah, I love high school picture Sage! This was a really great post, I love the tips and tie back to your personal life. I am not very good at going cold turkey, I did quit all processed sugar for almost a year and have kicked caffeine a couple of times but indulge in both now…oops.

  3. Molly on July 27, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    Terrific post! I love the school photo and how amazing that the stylist could tell that from your hair! I noticed a huge change in mine once I got my thyroid under control last year. Hair really does reflect your health and now I have people commenting on how good it looks.

    I do believe in making split decisions a lot. However, I tend to sit on it unless if it’s time sensitive because I like to think things over. I’ve been known to just jump in many times, though.

    I’ve quit quite a few things cold tofurkey before- cigarettes, coffee (although this one I keep coming back to), alcohol and a few hard drugs.

  4. Megan Gann on July 27, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    If I quit something, it pretty much has to be cold turkey. Continuing to indulge in bad habits or behavior I want to stop means stopping completely. I’ve quit caffeine a number of times. Cold turkey. Causes awful headaches, but I’ve ended up going back to drinking soda and whatnot because – well I like Coca-cola and coffee and tea. And finding drink alternatives is effing hard. There are some battles that I’m not prepared to fight.

    I frequently make “rash” decisions, but usually going with my gut satisfies me more than overly planning. Usually. I’ve chopped off all my hair, bought things impulsively, made some pretty ill-formed decisions. Life goes on!

    I like the adopt a turkey idea, even though I’m not vegan/vegetarian. (It’s probably terrible this post made me hungry, right?)

  5. xvavaveganx on July 27, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Great post Sage! Such a lovely story and great photos! I love seeing vintage Sage 🙂

    I tend to go cold turkey a lot. I make a lot of impulsive decisions and I do so by following my gut instinct. I also tend to be stubborn, determined and competitive. I think these traits also fuel my cold turkey tendencies 😉

    Have fun in Atlanta!

  6. Ralph Shybiker on July 27, 2012 at 6:03 am

    What a cool post. You make an important point and illustrate it with a charming story. Then, you put a cherry on top by showing us your early pictures! I’m stuffing myself here with cold (vegan) turkey.